Tokyo Art Beat & News of Its Co-Founder’s Return to Design Consulting

Tokyo Art Beat
Among those people in Tokyo who have been following the local art
scene for any length of time, recorded history can be cleanly into two
epochs.

The previous epoch (abbreviated as B.T. to distinguish it
from the current epoch, A.T.) was a sort of Dark Ages in which
we wandered about without much guidance of any kind – one in
which information about upcoming art/design openings and events and
locations of venues was transmitted through a primitive technology
we
referred to by a variety of names and abbreviations, including
WOM, whisper down the
lane
, and el teléfono estropeado. It proved to be a
not-particularly efficient way to share information – one that
resulted in many people missing out on info about many openings and
events
, or in never being able to find their way to many of the
obscure little art venues situated far off in the hinterlands of the
city.

But as I write this, in the year 1 A.T. (or in the opinion of some
scholars, 2 A.T.), we find ourselves in Tokyo in an entirely new
epoch. In this, a sort of modern Renaissance, we now have a single,
central, and easy-to-use system for finding out about upcoming
openings and events and venues
 – and for every piece of
information that might be associated with those: detailed descriptions
with images, exact times, venue addresses and phone numbers, maps, QR
codes, and more.

The system responsible for the art-information Renaissance that has
come about here is an extremely clever work of website and
web-application design called Tokyo Art Beat (TAB). And the two people to whom we principally owe our
gratitude for TAB are its co-founders: Olivier Thereaux and Paul Baron
(Olivier did most
of the work on the TAB information architecture and Paul
designed its user interface).

I don’t have room here to do justice to an adequate description of
the details that make TAB such a powerful piece of work. Just make
sure to go over there and check it out for yourself. What you’ll find
is an extremely clean and easy-to-navigate design that still manages
to provide an abundance of features
. And all of it completely
Japanese/English bilingual. And personalizable (through a MyTAB
feature). And with a companion mobile site as well – also
full-featured and beautifully designed.

And after exploring the TAB site(s), you might also want to head
over to Paul Baron’s personal site and check out his professional portfolio
. I think
you’ll probably find a few things to interest you there, too. And
you’ll also find an interesting bit of information at the site: a short and
understated posting from Paul
announcing that he has returned to
doing freelance/contract design work and consulting
.

I’m personally anxious to see what he might get involved with
next. Tokyo Art Beat – in all elegance and its ambitious
scale – was not Paul’s nor Olivier’s full-time work while it was
being created, but instead something that they worked on in their
after-hours. And though he only makes brief mention of “print” and
“usability/interface” as among the kinds of work he’s available for, I
know from talking with him that he has serious chops outside of just
website design
 – for example, work in print media (brochure
design, editorial design) and work in application
usability/user-interaction/interface design.

So I reckon that if you have a current or upcoming project in the
planning that would benefit from the full attention fo a
skilled designer with a record of very interesting ideas and work, it
certainly wouldn’t hurt to contact Paul and find out if he might be available.

2 Comments so far

  1. Hinomaru (unregistered) on January 14th, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

    TAB is a pretty good site. You can search both in English and Japanese. English description needs a bit more work, though.

    Found the one I was looking for. The gallery is called “Rashinban” (Compass Rose) in Ginza/Kyobashi. It mostly shows modern “nihonga” art of upcoming artists.

    I’d recommend a visit. The gallery owner is also an added incentive. ;)


  2. yuki (unregistered) on January 15th, 2006 @ 11:35 pm

    I used to do editing at TAB. All the editors are volunteers! So please give them a lot of credit and take it easy on the English part, it’s a LOT of work to keep the website updated.



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